Low-End Smartphones Drive Boom, Samsung Thrives, Report Finds

By 2015, shipments of gaming-rich smartphones will account for almost half the world's cell phone market, says research firm IHS -- which highlights Samsung's unsung successes.
By 2015, shipments of gaming-rich smartphones will account for almost half the world's cell phone market, says research firm IHS. Its new iSuppli Mobile Handset Market Tracker report says that "booming" sales of lower-end handsets will drive global smartphone units to 1.03 billion units by 2015, more than double this year's 478 million. This will place smartphones' share of global phone shipments at 54.4 percent in 2015, up from 2011's 32.5 percent, the report says. In 2009, smartphones were only 15.8 percent of the global market's shipments. IHS' report defines low-end models -- the fastest-growing category -- as "devices with limited features and lower memory densities relative to higher-end products." Shipments of these models will rise 115.4 percent per year from 2010 through 2015, compared to 16.4 percent for higher-end and mid-range smartphones. "With their affordable prices, low-end smart phones are attractive to first-time users and to consumers in emerging economies where subscriber levels are rising at the fastest rates of all regions of the world, such as China, India, South Asia and Africa,” says IHS wireless communications senior principal analyst Francis Sideco. The low-end sales boom is causing a shift in market share among the various companies making smartphones, the report continues. Apple's iPhone may be rising to dominance, but the report found Samsung saw the strongest growth of all companies with a 600 percent sequential increase in shipments in the second quater thanks to low-end phones sold in China and Latin America. Mobile app development is a primary driver of the smartphone segment, notes the report: "Success in the mobile phone industry is no longer purely a function of hardware capabilities," Sideco says. "Growth for all players is being determined by a number of other important factors, such as software capabilities, the sleekness and intuitiveness of the user interface and the availability of a variety of applications," adds Sideco.

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